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The Struggle
By Alex


Lena paced the small cell as the events of the past day raced through her mind. How it was possible to experience ultimate joy and the most poignant of heartbreaks all in the same twenty-four hour period was beyond her as she mentally cursed Michael for his vendetta. If she was honest with herself, she would admit that she was also cursing Bianca's unwillingness to be loved. Sighing, she sunk down onto the bare cot, resting her head in her hands. Her fingers slowly massaged her temples in a feeble attempt to drive away the maddening emotions raging inside her.

She was broken from her thoughts when she heard the door to the cells opening. Looking up, her eyes locked with those of a very defeated looking Bianca Montgomery. A heavy silence stretched between them as they stared at each other; one woman not knowing what to say, and the other lacking the words to say what she knew was necessary. A slow sigh escaped Bianca's lips as she prepared to speak.

"You were right." The words rushed from her lips before she could consider holding them back. Lena's eyes widened as Bianca jumped to elaborate. "About me, I mean."

Conflicting thoughts raced through Lena's mind as she sighed, unsure of whether it was from disappointment or relief. She fought to calm her raging emotions as Bianca continued to speak.

"I jumped to conclusions. I shouldn't have just automatically assumed you lied again." She said, struggling to keep her strength. "I'm not saying you didn't," she said pointedly, "but I do have to admit that it's possible that you were set up."

Lena let out a ragged sigh, suddenly realizing she had been holding her breath.

"Why are you telling me this, Bianca?" She asked, her voice strained with the conflicting thoughts and emotions that were currently staging a battle within her. "I can't tell you anything more than I already have. I can't make you believe me."

Bianca's throat closed up as she saw tears beginning to form in the older woman's eyes.

"I'm sorry," She choked out, her chin trembling as she struggled to hold back her own tears. "I don't know if I can trust you right now. But I do know that I want to, and-" She sighed, her voice fading to a vulnerable whisper as she stared at the floor, "and that scares me."

"I know." Lena replied softly. "I know you're scared, Bianca. You're afraid of being hurt, and I can't make that go away. And if I am to be honest with you, I'm not entirely sure I can trust you, either." She admitted shakily.

Bianca's eyes shot up to meet hers, confusion flickering across the brown orbs. Taking a deep breath, Lena began to explain.

"You must understand, Bianca, this is all new to me." She said, passion beginning to fill her voice. "You are the first person I have ever loved; before I met you, I didn't even know what love was. And to be honest, if this is what it feels like, then I wish I'd never found out."

Shock covered both women's faces as the words hung in the air. Silence filled the space between them, separating them far more than cold metal ever could. Finally Bianca shook her head, her eyes boring into the older woman's.

"You know that's not true." She said knowingly. "If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that we were happy. And if I really do know you, I know that you wouldn't give up what we shared for anything."

"You're right." Lena nodded as she stood, moving closer to Bianca. She reached out to cover Bianca's hands, which rested on the bars separating them, maintaining eye contact. "But if you're so sure that what we had was real, why are you so unwilling to believe that I would never want to hurt you?"

Gripping the bars tightly, Bianca looked down, closing her eyes to prevent the tears that were welling up in them. A silent struggle waged itself behind her soft eyelids as Lena looked on, helpless.

"I-I don't...I just can't." Bianca said, violently pulling away and turning her back. Lena's hands fell on the bars, her heart aching as she felt the residual warmth of the younger woman's touch.

"Bianca," She choked out, willing her voice to remain steady. "Please, look at me as I say this."

The other woman complied, turning slowly around to face Lena. Her heart sunk as she saw the rigid posture of the woman she loved. The older woman's eyes shone with determination as she continued.

"I love you." Lena said vehemently. "But if you can't accept that, if you can't believe me when I tell you that, then I'm not going to try to make you. I don't have the strength." Bianca looked down at the floor, trying to hide the internal war being waged in her heart and mind as Lena continued to speak. "You told me that day at the airport, that we were worth fighting for, but you couldn't do it alone. This is what I am telling you right now, Bianca. I want to be with you, I know we can get past this- but you have to be willing to try."

Looking up, Bianca locked eyes with the older woman, her remaining strength dissolving in the woman's impassioned gaze. Weakly, she collapsed against the bars, her hands barely catching them to hold her up. Her body was wracked with sobs as she was overwhelmed with conflicting thoughts and emotions. Instinctively, Lena's arms moved through the space between the bars to wrap around the young woman, pulling her as close as the cold metal would allow. When she didn't resist, fingers slipped through dark hair in an attempt to soothe Bianca, feeling the violent trembling of the fragile body.

"I'm so confused, Lena." Bianca murmured shakily. Lena placed a reassuring kiss in the younger woman's hair, encouraging her to continue. "Everything is telling me to just walk away, to move on. But the thought of doing that, of just leaving you...it hurts more than anything else I've ever felt. I don't know if I can ever get over you."

"Then don't try." Lena urged, pushing Bianca away slightly so she could look her in the eyes, her hands gently wiping the tears from the younger woman's face. "Bianca, I promise you that I had nothing to do with these bogus charges, and deep down I think you know that. Please, just give us a chance."

Bianca bit back a sarcastic response, willing herself not to close herself off. She considered the older woman's impassioned plea, struck by the pure emotion conveyed in eyes glimmering with tears. Moments stretched on for miles as Bianca's thoughts raced through her mind at warp speed. She rifled through every excuse, every reason not to trust the broken woman before her, and none of them could add up to the sheer desperation and love in those pleading eyes.

As her thoughts became clearer, she realized she had been inching toward Lena, and was now a breath away from the older woman; the metal bars the only thing standing between them. Tilting her head slightly, she contemplated what her body already seemed to know. Lena's chin trembled as she awaited the woman's answer, fighting to quell the hope that was rising in her as Bianca's eyes fixed themselves on her lips. Their breath came in heavy sighs, mingling together as Bianca leaned closer, searching for an answer that on some level she already knew.

Her answer came in the quiver of Lena's chin as their lips met, in the soft sigh that escaped the older woman's lips when they parted for a moment, in the way her mouth opened at the slightest urging to allow Bianca's tongue a gentle exploration. She felt the goose bumps rise on Lena's neck as she lightly caressed the soft skin, and the gentle pressure of strong hands on her back as Lena strived to pull her closer. In that moment, she knew the truth of Lena's body, a truth that she could trust more than any words. As they parted, a shaky sigh escaped Bianca's lips.

"It's real." She whispered, nodding to herself slightly. Raising her eyes to meet Lena's, she saw the love conveyed in her own eyes reflected back at her, and she smiled softly. "It's real, and it's worth fighting for."

The End

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